Consumer protectionConsumer-friendly handling of small claims across the EU in force

As of July 14, 2017, the revised rules of the European Small Claims Procedure have come into force. This new fast-track procedure is designed to simplify previously lengthy and costly court procedures for consumers regarding cross-border claims of up to 5,000€.

These new rules imply the following:

  • This procedure helps to settle common disputes between consumers and businesses. For instance, when consumers order a product online and cross-border, which ultimately doesn’t match the description, and then struggle to get a refund through the trader.
  • Besides commercial cases, this procedure can also handle cross-border disputes of a ‘civil’ nature. Types of cross-border claims covered by the procedure are, e.g., the delivery of goods, payment of money, damages arising from an accident or requiring someone to perform a contract.
  • The new procedure is available to litigants as an alternative to the procedures existing under the laws of the Member States. A judgment given by the European Small Claims Procedure is recognized and enforceable in another Member State without the need for a declaration of enforceability and any other formalities.
  • These new rules will help to reduce unnecessary traveling for court appearances by making better use of technology – such as kicking-off the procedure online, using video-conferencing for communication, accepting documents sent by email by the court as well as limiting physical presence only to cases when the court cannot make a decision based on written documents.
  • Moreover, the new rules limit resulting court fees to be proportionate to the value of the claim.

Source: European Commission

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